Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels previously served as Ronald Reagan's political director and as George W. Bush's budget director. The two-term Republican governor and author of the new book "Keeping the Republic" was the guest speaker at the Sept. 23 Monitor breakfast in Washington.
The threat posed by big federal debt:
"We face an enormous common problem.... It is the menace of red ink. It isn't a left-right, R-versus-D question. It is arithmetic.... We have to fix it, or we are going to lose the American promise we call the dream."
Whether the US economy could recover from recession without government action:
"We constantly overestimate ... the degree to which governments can make all this happen or not happen.... You say, 'Can it heal itself?' We shouldn't underestimate its capacity to do that. We have seen it before."
President Obama's plan to increase taxes on families making more than $250,000 a year:
"The president and some of his allies with their obsession about tax rates are looking in the wrong place.... The first place to look is benefits that the wealthy don't need, which means, obviously, means testing."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry's electability in the presidential race:
"I don't think we know enough to say yet.... I have been worried about the track of this economy since late '09.... In that [grim economic] situation ... it could be that any Republican who breathes and speaks English becomes the default option."
Sizing up Mr. Obama:
"I love ... that he seems devoted to his family. That is a very important example.... I think in many aspects of foreign policy I don't have a quarrel.... The president, his life has been so far removed from the world in which jobs and wealth and prosperity are made that he does not understand and probably cannot understand how damaging his policies are to the economic prospects of the country. He just inhabits a different planet ... in that respect."
Why he does not watch GOP presidential debates:
"I don't watch a lot of television ... and it is just not my favorite fare, I guess. I'm a print guy."
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